The ghost of Kamata Matahachi
This print represents a scene from the kabuki play True record of the famous song for hand-balls, which was performed in the Nakamura Theatre in the seventh month of 1855.
The tragedy of the play concerns the Mari family. Mari Yashiro made love to his brother's widow, who had become a nun after her husband's death. When his wrong-doing came to be known to his servant Kamata Matahachi and his dead brother's concubine Kikuno, Yashiro had them both killed.
In this print, Kamata Matahachi and Kikuno appear as ghosts tied facing in opposite directions, accompanied by their spirit fires. Both are identified by the inscriptions in the cartouches. The print is signed 'Toyokuni', the name of his teacher who Kunisada had adopted in 1844.